WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2019
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners held a regular meeting, as scheduled, on Tuesday, September 17, 2019, at 5:30 P.M. in the Commissioners' Board Room of the Watauga County Administration Building, Boone, North Carolina.
PRESENT: John Welch, Chairman
Billy Kennedy, Vice-Chairman
Larry Turnbow, Commissioner
Charlie Wallin, Commissioner
Perry Yates, Commissioner
Anthony di Santi, County Attorney
Deron Geouque, County Manager
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board
Chairman Welch called the meeting to order at 5:30 P.M.
Commissioner Yates opened with a prayer and Vice-Commissioner Kennedy led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Approval of Minutes
Chairman Welch called for additions and/or corrections to the September 3, 2019, regular meeting, closed session, and special meeting minutes.
Vice-Chairman Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to approve the September 3, 2019, regular meeting minutes as presented.
Vice-Chairman Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to approve the September 3, 2019, closed session minutes as presented.
Vice-Chairman Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to approve the September 3, 2019, special meeting minutes as presented.
Approval of Agenda
Chairman Welch called for additions and/or corrections to the September 17, 2019, agenda.
Commissioner Wallin, seconded by Commissioner Turnbow, moved to approve the September 17, 2019, agenda as presented.
Update on The Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI)
Ms. Crystal Kelly gave a presentation on the Pritzker Children’s Initiative and thanked the Board for the investments made in our children. Ms. Kelly shared that the County has 1,100 children under the age of three with 25% in childcare facilities. Ms. Kelly stated that the initiative strives to build stronger supports through Family Connects. Ms. Kelly reported that 75% of the teachers at childcare facilities in Watauga County stayed in the same center during the first year and 90% stayed in the same field.
Ms. Kelly shared a request that was made at the National Association of Counties (NACo) Conference in July for local Governments to ponder. The request was to set precedence by developing an early childhood education fund. The goal was to go beyond funding programs and to learn how to build out systems of support so our young children will not need services in the future such as foster care, for example. The initiative plans to address quality and access to support systems by working at a State level for subsidies for teacher education.
Chairman Welch shared appreciation for the work Ms. Kelly and the Children’s Council are doing and stated that the Board would discuss the NACo request during the Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Pre-Budget Retreat. The presentation was given for information only and, therefore, no action was required.
Public Hearing Request for Citizen Comment on Proposed Amendments to the Valle Crucis Historic District Ordinance
Mr. Joe Furman, Planning and Inspections Director, requested a public hearing be scheduled for October 15, 2019, to consider proposed text amendments to the Valle Crucis Historic District Ordinance as submitted by the Board of Commissioners. Mr. Furman stated that, per General Statute 153A-323, the public hearing is required to be held prior to amending the ordinance. The proposed amendments will be reviewed by the Planning Board and the Valle Crucis Historic District Commission prior to the public hearing.
Vice-Chairman Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to schedule the public hearing for Tuesday, October 15, 2019, at 5:30 P.M. to allow for public comment on proposed amendments to the Valle Crucis Historic District Ordinance.
Commissioner Welch stated that the Ordinance covers the entire Valle Crucis Historic District not just the proposed location of the new Valle Crucis School.
Proposed Renewals of Emergency Services Maintenance Agreements
B. Mobile Communications of America
County Manager Geouque, on behalf of Mr. Will Holt, Emergency Services Director, presented a proposed service contract with Hyper-Reach and three maintenance contracts with Mobile Communications of America for the County’s E911 and Emergency Management Radio systems. The Hyper-Reach service agreement will replace the County’s current contract with Code Red which will change our emergency notification system to a new vendor with matching services. The Hyper-Reach agreement is $7,000 annually for a total of $21,000 on a 3 year contract. The three maintenance contracts with Mobile Communications are for Console Infrastructure Maintenance, in the amount of $12,900, the Fixed Equipment Maintenance, in the amount of $11,664, and the Subscribers Maintenance, in the amount of $6,336.
Vice-Chairman Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to approve the Console Infrastructure Maintenance, the Fixed Equipment Maintenance, and the Subscribers Maintenance contracts with Mobile Communications of America in the amounts of $12,900, $11,664, and $6,336, respectively and the Hyper-Reach services agreement contract. Adequate funds are available in the current year budget to cover the expense.
A. Monthly Collections Report
Tax Administrator, Mr. Larry Warren, presented the Tax Collections Report for the month of August 2019. The report was presented for information only and, therefore, no action was required.
B. Refunds and Releases
Mr. Warren presented the Refunds and Releases Report for August 2019 for Board approval:
TO BE TYPED IN MINUTE BOOK
Commissioner Turnbow, seconded by Commissioner Wallin, moved to approve the Refunds and Releases Report for August 2019 as presented.
C. Property Tax Appeal
Mr. Warren presented a request from a citizen who applied for Senior Exemption status for property taxes. The application was required to be filed before June 1 of each year. Staff informed the citizen that both her and her husband’s income would be considered because they were still married. The citizen then proceeded to obtain her divorce in June; after the deadline date. On August 26, 2019, the citizen came in with a copy of an application where she found at the bottom of the last page a paragraph regarding “Late Application” upon showing of good cause. She stated her application was untimely because was her divorce not finalized by the deadline date of June 1. Staff’s recommendation was to deny the application for 2019 in order to not set a precedent for other late filings. The citizen could still apply for the Senior Exemption status for 2020. The appeal would have been filed with the Board of Equalization and Review but, since that Board adjourned, the appeal is required to be heard by the Board of Commissioners.
Commissioner Turnbow moved to consider the application due to the change in marital status. The motion died for lack of a second.
Discussion was held regarding the application and the concerns for setting precedence.
Chairman Welch tabled further discussion to allow for Mr. Warren to provide more detailed information to be presented at the next Board of Commissioners meeting, which is scheduled for October 1, 2019.
Miscellaneous Administrative Matters
A. November Meeting Schedule
County Manager Geouque stated that the Election Day will be on Tuesday, November 5, this year which is the same day as a scheduled Board meeting. Board of Elections requires the use of the Commissioners’ Board Room on Election Day as it serves as an official polling place. Due to the first meeting in November being necessary for items that will require Board action, Staff recommended the meeting be rescheduled to Wednesday, November 6, 2019, at 8:30 A.M.
Commissioner Turnbow, seconded by Vice-Chairman Kennedy, moved to reschedule the November 5, 2019, Board meeting to Wednesday, November 6, 2019, at 8:30 AM.
County Manager Geouque announced the following:
· The Trustees of Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute invites the Board of Commissioners to a meeting on Wednesday, September 18, 2018, at 6:00 P.M. at the Watauga Instructional Facility on Hwy 105 Bypass, Boone NC, in Room 112.
· The bonds for the refinancing of the Watauga High School loan were sold on Monday, September 16. The net savings was $677,245, less than expected but still substantial savings, which translated to approximately $75,000 annually for the next nine years. The interest rate dropped from 4.71% to 2.62%.
There was no public comment.
At 6:07 P.M., Commissioner Turnbow, seconded by Commissioner Wallin, moved to enter Closed Session to discuss Attorney/Client Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(3), Land Acquisition, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(5)(i), and Personnel Matters, per G. S. 143-318.11(a)(6).
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Turnbow, moved to resume the open meeting at 7:29 P.M.
Commissioner Wallin, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to amend the agenda to include a budget amendment for the payment of a water allocation fee for the new Community Recreation Center.
Possible Action After Closed Session
Commissioner Yates, seconded by Commissioner Wallin, moved to approve a budget amendment allocating $500,000 from the fund balance to pay the Town of Boone, under extreme protest, water and sewer permit fees for the new Community Recreation Center.
Vice-Chairman Kennedy, seconded by Commissioner Yates, moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:31 P.M.
John Welch, Chairman
Anita J. Fogle, Clerk to the Board